Opinion | CMPD showed DaBaby who has the juice, but was it worth the squeeze?

The recent incident between CMPD and rapper DaBaby was a missed opportunity for community-building.
DaBaby
Grammy-nominated rapper DaBaby during a Dec. 23 performance at Bojangles’ Coliseum. Photo: Ryan Bull

When making decisions, I often ask myself, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” In other words, will the result be worth the effort?

That was the question that came to mind after a recent incident between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and Grammy-nominated rapper — and Charlotte native — DaBaby following a Dec. 23 concert at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

Officers initially arrested and charged Jonathan Kirk, better known as DaBaby, with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and resisting an officer, according to the police report. But after transporting him to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department, Kirk was issued two citations instead. 

Officers on the scene said they could smell marijuana from his vehicle and see it in plain view, which would give officers the right to search. If true, no matter how you may feel about the legalization of marijuana, it’s probably not a good idea to have that or any other unlawful substance in plain view of your parked vehicle in the presence of law enforcement.

DaBaby shared with his 8 million Instagram followers that he felt it was an illegal search. He spoke with local media following his release hours later and denied accusations that he was noncompliant, saying that he had video and audio evidence.

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The police department has started an internal investigation into the incident. 

DaBaby, who has had run-ins with local law enforcement in the past, said that he feels targeted by law enforcement every time he comes back to Charlotte. CMPD Chief Kerr Putney has stated that the community’s mistrust in the police is rightfully deserved, however, it makes it difficult for them to do their jobs. 

I’ve never been arrested, but I can vividly recall every time I’ve been followed, stopped, questioned or searched by the police. Yes, multiple times. 

DaBaby’s accusations of harassment made me reflect on my interactions with the police as a teenager, college student, and recently as I was changing a flat tire in a poorly lit parking lot in Uptown.

A number of Charlotteans look at DaBaby as a hometown hero. He’s received positive attention for his philanthropic work and being of the people. When he missed the original Dec. 5 Charlotte performance due to issues with his private plane, he made lemonade out of lemons by performing via FaceTime with a promise to reschedule. The night of the police incident was the makeup date. Earlier that day, he passed out Christmas gifts to hundreds of local families. 

The optics of this situation doesn’t look good for CMPD. They look like the Grinch who stole Christmas – arresting a resident giving his time, talent and resources back to the community. Was the juice worth the squeeze?

The law is the law, and I’m not insinuating that officers should’ve let this situation slide if they found drugs in DaBaby’s possession. But based on the community’s previous gripes with CMPD, I think it could’ve been handled more delicately. 

I’ve been to a fair share of concerts and music festivals where I remember catching whiffs of cannabis in the air in the presence of uniformed officers. I’ve watched artists with active warrants perform and leave without being arrested. I’ve also seen artists arrested right before a scheduled appearance. 

DaBaby is a proud Charlottean and pop culture influencer. Instead of reinforcing the narrative of distrust, I’d rather see local law enforcement find ways to partner with celebrities with local ties to solve issues like the rising number of violent crimes. 

We’ll see how this all plays out, but I think there was a missed opportunity for some community-building and positive PR for CMPD during the holiday season. 


Kallan Louis is a writer and consultant for qcitymetro.com. He does a lot, but never feels like he’s doing enough. His life can be described as a Venn Diagram: News media, Black culture and sports. He’s always on TV, but rarely seen.

Qcitymetro.com welcomes your voice on issues affecting the Charlotte community. Have an opinion about an issue? Email the editor. It might get published.

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